Tea party rally draws 500, some opponents

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Entering its second year, Pittsburgh's tea party movement had its now-traditional tax day rally in Market Square today, attended by roughly 500 supporters and a gaggle of counter-demonstrators.

The movement has kept its anti-tax, anti-health care reform and anti-Obama administration planks but with the Republican Party's wins in last year's midterm elections -- and wins in Pennsylvania's races for governor and U.S. Senate -- many of its activists have switched their focus to old-time campaigning rather than rallies. Today's rally reflected that, with organizers bringing the two GOP candidates for county executive onto the stage, even as scheduled speakers spoke on the usual tea party subjects of welfare reform, repealing Obama's health care package and warnings about Sharia law.

One scheduled speaker -- Matt Pitzarella, spokesman for natural gas driller Range Resources -- left about 80 minutes into the rally, saying he had other appointments and the event was taking too long. He was invited by the tea party organizers to speak on energy issues.

The was a brief argument between a United Steelworkers worker and a tea party activist who asked the worker to leave the stage area.

Activists from Pittsburgh United -- a collection of union and social service workers -- staged a quiet counter-demonstration while dressed in formal clothing and mocking tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


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